The U.K. Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) is opening a market study to determine if Google and Apple’s platform duopoly stifles competition, reduces innovation or results in higher prices for consumers.
The British watchdog said in a Tuesday (June 15) press release that the companies have an effective duopoly in several areas — mobile operating systems, app gateways and web browsers. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android are the world’s foremost operating systems for smartphones. Further, Apple’s App Store and Google’s Play Store are the gatekeepers for app downloads. Google’s Chrome and Apple’s Safari also are the most used browsers across the map.
“Apple and Google control the major gateways through which people download apps or browse the web on their mobiles — whether they want to shop, play games, stream music or watch TV. We’re looking into whether this could be creating problems for consumers and the businesses that want to reach people through their phones,” said CMA Chief Executive Andrea Coscelli.
He added that the CMA’s continuous work regarding the state of big tech has revealed that there have been “some worrying trends” that would cause harm to both individuals and businesses.
The CMA is concerned that stifled competition could lead to people paying more for devices and apps and could even cause “higher prices for other goods and services due to higher advertising prices,” per the release.
Aside from examining the mobile ecosystems of the two tech giants, the market study also will take a look at the effect of both Google and Apple’s market power over app developers and other businesses.
Market studies can result in the CMA making recommendations to the government and issuing guidance to individuals and corporates as needed, per the release.
The CMA launched an investigation into the Apple App Store to determine if the tech giant’s terms and conditions are in violation of competition law. The App Store is the only way for developers to distribute third-party apps on Apple devices. Some developers and businesses have said the iPhone maker’s terms and conditions are unfair.
The U.K.’s latest probe is just one of many worldwide that are questioning if the power of big tech platforms prevents competition and harms consumers and businesses. Japan’s antitrust watchdog is reportedly deciding whether to launch an investigation into both Apple and Google over its deals with the country’s smartphone makers.